House Democrats Oppose National Park Carry

Winchester 73

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Its the same old song.

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Democrats say they'll fight for gun ban in parks

Les Blumenthal
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — With a showdown looming, Rep. Norm Dicks says he's prepared to block any effort by the administration to lift the ban on carrying loaded weapons in national parks.

It's not an idle threat.

As chairman of the House Appropriations interior subcommittee, Dicks oversees the National Parks Service's annual budget and is in a position to prevent the administration from dropping the Reagan-era ban. While the Washington Democrat is usually reluctant to add legislative provisions to his spending bill, he is ready to make an exception in this case even if it prompts a presidential veto.

"Every now and then something rises up that needs to be fought and this is one of them," Dicks said.

The ban, and efforts by the National Rifle Association to lift it, has emerged as a major Second Amendment issue in this election year. Democrats say Republicans are using it as a "wedge" to exploit gun issues in an already heated political atmosphere. Republicans say they are just trying to protect the rights of gun owners.

The dispute already has interrupted consideration of a public lands bill in the Senate, which included the creation of the 100,000-acre Wild Sky Wilderness area in Washington.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has said the ban is under review and a new regulation will be released April 30 that will update firearms policies in the national parks and wildlife refuges.

Current regulations ban loaded weapons in the federal parks and refuges. Unloaded weapons can be carried if they are locked in a safe place such as a car trunk.

Dicks said his counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has told him she would use her position as chairman of the Senate Appropriations interior subcommittee to also block any changes in the current regulations.

"Permitting loaded firearms to be carried or used within our national parks or wildlife refuges would be a radical, unprecedented change that would likely upset the delicate balance that exists between wildlife and park visitors in these areas," Dicks and Feinstein said in a letter to Kempthorne.

"More importantly," the letter continued, "allowing loaded and accessible weapons in national parks would create a dangerous environment for millions of American families who annually visit our national parks expecting a safe and enjoyable experience — not loaded firearms and stray bullets."

Dicks was an early supporter of efforts to ban handguns and assault weapons, in part because of the violence that so long flared in the Hilltop area of Tacoma.

"Everyone knows when you have guns, bad things happens," Dicks said in an interview.

Dicks called the effort to lift the loaded weapons in the parks a mistake and vowed to "fight it all the way. If this ban was good enough for the Reagan administration and James Watt, why isn't it good enough now?"

Watt was President Reagan's controversial interior secretary when regulations involving guns in the parks were last revised. The ban actually dates to 1936 amid concerns of illegal hunting and poaching in the parks.

Washington state's two senators also oppose any change in the regulations.

"Park rangers and conservationists have pointed to the reasonable gun regulations in our national parks as a reason they are some of the safest places in America," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Murray was also upset the issue had interfered with passage of the Wild Sky Wilderness legislation, which was yanked from the floor when Sen. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a longtime gun-rights advocate, said he would offer an amendment to the public lands bill lifting the ban.

"A bill creating new wilderness land for future generations shouldn't be the grounds for ideological battles to be waged," Murray said.

Democratic Washington Rep. Rick Larsen supports the current ban, while Republican Rep. Doc Hastings thinks it should be reviewed.

"The proposed rule change would have a negative impact on the safety of rangers, visitors and wildlife in our national parks," Larsen said.

Hastings believes the "Interior Department should review its policy and make sure it respects the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans."

Two other Washington state lawmakers, Democrat Adam Smith and Republican Dave Reichert, have yet to take a stand, though Reichert, a former King County sheriff, is talking with former park rangers.

A retired park rangers association and the National Parks Conservation Association adamantly oppose any change in the current regulations.

"It's truly unfortunate the National Rifle Association has chosen this issue to flex its election-year political muscle," said Tom Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association.

The NRA fired back.

"Law abiding citizens should not be prohibited from protecting themselves and their families while enjoying America's national parks and wildlife refuges," said Chris Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist. "Under this proposal, federal parks and wildlife refuges will mirror the state firearms laws for state parks. This is an important step in the right direction."

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Nat'l Park Carry

Well, with these idiots it is easy to see why the feds are wondering why National Park visits are down so much. It is easy, besides the excessive fees for fuel people want to be able to protect themselves from two, as well as four legged creatures. The two legged variety aren't a protected class, but they certainly do like to go after the helpless and indefensible. It would certainly be very nice for the country as a whole, if we could eliminate these idiots from Congress and get back to basics!

Red Hat

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Just a normal day in Congress...a liberal lobbyist must have threatened to cut off his pocket money!


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The difference between THEM and US

is sort of summed up here.

"Everyone knows when you have guns, bad things happens," Dicks said in an interview.

Oddly, I think just the opposite.

The Gunny

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Surprise, surprise as ol' private Pyle used to say.

You know I just don't see how anyone can be Pro-gun and be a Democrat.

I would say we just found another election year topic to see how well each of the candidates follows their parties line. Though I doubt they will reveal more then they can avoid.
Ha Ha...Typical when guns are present people are in danger clause. Nothing like predictability.

If "GUNS" cause crime, murder, and rampid distruction, mine must be defective. ;)


Titles are un-American.
Dicks was an early supporter of efforts to ban handguns and assault weapons, in part because of the violence that so long flared in the Hilltop area of Tacoma.
Hmmm...Hilltop was an urbanized ghetto area of Tacoma. National parks, by definition, are not urban. This would be like making rules on dog walking in east Texas.


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Bad things happen

is sort of summed up here.

"Everyone knows when you have guns, bad things happens," Dicks said in an interview.

Oddly, I think just the opposite.

When enemies of the constitution are in office bad things happen.


New member
Bad things happen

"Everyone knows when you have guns, bad things happens," Dicks said in an interview.

If Mr. Dicks really feels that bad things happen when someone has guns, then he should call for disarming park rangers.

Why are park rangers armed anyway? Could it be they might run into criminals in our national parks? Of course if John or Jane Q. Public runs into these criminals, they won't have the means to defend themselves outside of their own arms and legs. And it will be highly unlikely that a park ranger will be around when needed because they're few and far between.

In reality, bad things happen when Congress is in session.

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